American History Curriculum Supplement Review: U.S.A Constitution Activity Book

American History Curriculum Supplement Review: U.S.A Constitution Activity Book

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase using the links.

I’m using U.S.A Constitution Activity Book, published by Dover Publications, as a supplement for my fourth grader’s studies in early American history.

American History Supplement Review: U.S.A Constitution Activity Book

Traditional methods for teaching include lectures, textbooks, and living literature. Homeschoolers often use more hands-on methods, too, with craft projects. Since my oldest prefers interactive learning methods, I was excited to find this workbook full of fun puzzles and activities related to the U.S. Constitution and the history surrounding it.

How It’s Set Up

U.S.A Constitution Activity Book has 33 puzzles and activities related to the U.S. Constitution and the history surrounding it, with an answer key at the book of the workbook. Each activity is introduced with information about a topic of historical significance. The activities and puzzles themselves include mazes, word searches, spot-the-difference pictures, word puzzles, etc.

Teacher Prep

Teacher prep will depend on how you want to use U.S.A Constitution Activity Book. We’re using it as a fun diversion from our typical American history studies, so my son is pretty much starting on the first page and doing the pages in sequential order. But you can use it as a resource in a more thoughtful way by assigning pages as the topics on those pages are covered in your regular history studies. For example, you may want to assign page 9 when learning about states ratifying the Constitution.

Student Time

How much time a student spends on this workbook will depend on the difficulty level of the particular puzzle the student is working on. Most puzzles are pretty straightforward and will take less than 10 minutes to complete, but a few of the word puzzles may take a bit longer.

To whom would I recommend U.S.A Constitution Activity Book?

(Based on Learning Preferences and Three D’s I describe in earlier posts.)

Recommend to…

  • Students that do well with Interactive learning methods since this is an activity book.
  • Students that prefer to learn in an Independent way.
  • Students that love puzzles and games.
  • Students reading on at least a fourth-grade reading level.

I would NOT recommend to…

  • Students that do not learn well with Interactive learning methods.
  • Students that do not enjoy puzzles and games.
  • Students that are not fluent readers.

My Best Tips for Using U.S.A Constitution Activity Book

  • I find it helpful to check in with my student after he completes his activity page for the day. I check for understanding by having him read the activity introduction aloud and asking him what the activity/puzzle revealed to him.
  • Know why you’re using this workbook. Since we use U.S.A Constitution Activity Book to learn about history, and not necessarily to work on critical thinking skills, I help my son if he’s struggling with an activity.

The Last Thing You Need to Know about U.S.A Constitution Activity Book

U.S.A Constitution Activity Book has been a fun, low-pressure way to get in a little extra history learning on what’s usually a dry subject.

Indescribable Devotional Book Review

Indescribable Devotional Book Review

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase using the links.

Louie Giglio’s Indescribable is a devotional for kids that incorporates scientific facts. I purchased it to use in our homeschool as a group devotional. Considering Louie Giglio’s dynamic speaking style and love for science (see this video about DNA and laminin – wow!), I was very excited about reading this book.

Indescribable Devotional Book Review

How It’s Set Up

Indescribable has 100 devotions, each being two pages long. Each devotion begins with a Bible verse followed by the devotion itself, and then ends with a prayer. Each devotion also has a “Be Amazed” sidebar with a (usually) scientific fact.

The science in the devotionals cover four major topics:

  • space
  • earth
  • animals
  • people

Devotions covering these topics are peppered throughout the book, but the introduction contains a handy dandy list of page numbers for each topic. The typical reader might start reading with the first devotion and go straight through, but thanks to the topic list, you can use Indescribable as a resource for your science studies.

My Thoughts

Indescribable is a nice devotional for elementary students, with easy-to-understand text, cute drawings, and interesting pictures. I read Indescribable aloud to my kids during our group learning time, and it usually instigates some fun conversation and online investigation on the scientific topic covered.

While it’s a nice devotional, Indescribable is not what I expected. Each devotion does talk about a scientific topic and relate it to some spiritual lesson, but the relation between the science and the spiritual lesson is often not direct. This lack of direct connection between science and “spirit” makes Indescribable a devotional with some science when I expected a book with a lot of science that reveals spiritual truths. In other words, I expected a book with a lot more of the laminin-type of material I mentioned above, only written to be understoood by kids. Since my expectation for the book was different from what I found, Indescribable did not grab me as I’d hoped.

To whom would I recommend [product]?

(Based on Learning Preferences and Three D’s I describe in earlier posts.)

Recommend to…

  • Students that do well learning via the Spoken Word may appreciate Indescribable as a read-aloud.
  • Students that do well learning via the Written Word may appreciate reading Indescribable on their own, possibly as part of their morning devotional.
  • Students that do well learning with Visual learning methods will enjoy the drawings and pictures.
  • Students that love science.
  • Families that enjoy a family devotional.

I would NOT recommend to…

I would not recommend Indescribable to anyone looking for in-depth, The Case for Christ-type of correlation between science and God.

My Best Tips for Using Indescribable

  • Consider your kids’ preferred learning methods before deciding how to use Indescribable. I found that even a child that really enjoys science (but does not learn well with the Spoken Word) had a hard time being attentive when I used this as a read-aloud group devotional.
  • If you decide to use Indescribable as a resource/supplement for your science studies, do the work of plugging specific pages into your planner on the appropriate dates. For example, if you’re studying DNA, you may want to plug page 76 into your planner to use as a devotion at around the time you cover this topic.

The Last Thing You Need to Know about Indescribable

While not exactly what I expected, Indescribable is a very nice devotional for elementary students.

Cursive Writing Practice: Jokes & Riddles Review

Cursive Writing Practice: Jokes & Riddles Review

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase using the links.

I’m using Cursive Writing Practice: Jokes & Riddles, published by Scholastic, with my soon-to-be fifth grader. I chose it for some fun handwriting practice during the summer, but we may continue with it next school year.

Cursive Writing Practice: Jokes & Riddles Review

Cursive Writing Practice: Jokes & Riddles takes a novel approach to handwriting practice. Rather than practicing handwriting with dry source material, students write jokes and riddles in cursive. Since I have three boys that love a good joke, I knew that my oldest would love sharing new jokes with his brothers.

How It’s Set Up

Cursive Writing Practice: Jokes & Riddles has 42 practice pages. The first two practice pages give the student an opportunity to practice writing the alphabet, first uppercase then lowercase letters. There isn’t any instruction about how to form the letters, other than arrows to serve as a reminder. So this workbook assumes that the student has learned how to write in cursive already and just needs some practice.

Since there can be differences in how cursive letters are formed (ex, the letters F and T), it’s important to note if letter formation reflects what the student has learned in the past. Since my son learned a different way to form some letters, I gave him the option to continue writing the way he learned, or try out the new letter formations. He chose to stick with what he learned in the past.

All practice pages other than the alphabet pages have the same setup:

  • the top half gives the opportunity to practice writing words from that page’s joke/riddle (written in its entirety below the practice words)
  • the bottom half has lines for the student to write the joke/riddle
  • the margin gives handwriting tips for the student and a bonus joke/riddle

A blank page at the end of the workbook allows the student to add his own jokes/riddles.

Students have the option to create their own joke booklet when the workbook is completed (instructions at the front of the book). A dashed line between the top and bottom portions of each page shows where to cut.

Teacher Prep

You may want to decide how you want to schedule Cursive Writing Practice: Jokes & Riddles. I have my son use it about four times a week. He writes the practice words on a practice page one day, and then writes out the joke the next day. Other options for using this workbook include:

  • having the student do one practice page per day
  • allowing the student to work out of it as much as he likes per handwriting session
  • rotating it with another handwriting workbook or copywork

Student Time

How much time a student spends on this will depend on how you use it. The way we use it, it takes my son less than 10 minutes a day.

To whom would I recommend Cursive Writing Practice: Jokes & Riddles?

(Based on Learning Preferences and Three D’s I describe in earlier posts.)

Recommend to…

  • Students that have previously learned how to write in cursive and just need practice.
  • Students that love jokes!

I would NOT recommend to…

Students that need instruction on how to form cursive letters.

My Best Tips for Using Cursive Writing Practice: Jokes & Riddles

  • Keep it fun. Don’t require too much in one day
  • If your student learned how to form cursive letters in a different way than shown in this workbook, and you are allowing them to continue with the way that they’ve learned previosly, provide a handwriting guide showing the familiar cursive letters so that your student doesn’t get confused.
  • If you like the idea of making handwriting practice more fun for your child but don’t love the content of this workbook, use books in your home library to create your own handwriting curriculum. Focus on books that delight your student, and choose sentences or very short passages. Maybe underline words for them to practice, create copywork forms using a cursive font, or handwrite into a notebook for your student to copy.

The Last Thing You Need to Know about Cursive Writing Practice: Jokes & Riddles

Cursive Writing Practice: Jokes & Riddles is a great way to inject some fun into what is normally a tedious and boring subject.

Math-U-See Curriculum Review

Math-U-See Curriculum Review

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase using the links. Math-U-See is a hands-on mastery-based math curriculum published by Demme Learning. I’ve used several levels in our homeschool with two of my kids so far. Each year that we used it, we used it for the entire year and completed the book.

Math-U-See Review

Math-U-See is a mastery-based curriculum, where each level is mostly dedicated to covering just one or two topics thoroughly (ex. addition and subtraction for multiple-digit numbers, division for single and multiple-digit numbers) rather than the spiral approach of jumping around to different topics. Therefore, rather than naming each level for a grade, each elementary level, with the exception of Primer (kindergarten) is given a Greek letter (Alpha, Beta, Gamma, etc.). With this different approach to teaching math, it’s important for students coming from a different curriculum to take a placement test to know where they should be.

Curriculum Elements

The core elements of Math-U-See consist of:
  • an instruction manual (contains answer key)
  • a student workbook
  • an integer block kit.
In addition to these core elements, you can also get:
  • an instructional DVD
  • a test book
  • skip count song CD/mp3’s
The upper elementary levels also require additional hands-on elements. For convenience, these various curriculum elements are sold as sets, depending on what you need.
  • If you’ve never used Math-U-See before, you should purchase the universal set for your particular level.
  • If your student is moving to the next level, you should purchase the level-up set.
  • If a younger child is moving to a level that an older student has completed, you can order the individual elements that you need.

Structure

Each level of Math-U-See has about 30 lessons. The student receives instruction for each lesson either via the instructional DVD or a parent (with the help of the instructional book). The student workbook contains seven worksheets per lesson (1A, 1B, 1C, etc.). Worksheets A, B, and C are for practice of the new concept taught in that lesson. Worksheets D, E, and F serve as systematic review of concept learned so far. Worksheet G is intended to be an enrichment or “fun” worksheet. You can also create additional worksheets online with the digital pack. The worksheets sometimes have an example problem filled out, but it does NOT contain instruction on the new topic. So the student will require instruction on the new topic from the instructional DVD or parent. Since color is important for some students, you should note that the worksheets are very plain and not colorful. The test book contains a test for each lesson, along with unit tests and a final test. The answers to the tests and worksheets are in the instruction manual. It’s up to the parent to decide:
  • how to give the student instruction
  • which worksheets the student will do
  • whether or not to use the tests
  • whether or not to grade

Additional Purchases

While the integer block kit is a hands-on method of teaching, some students may require something more or different. For example, we had great success with the Dice Activities for Multiplication activity book. The game Sum Swamp is also popular for early elementary.

Teacher Prep

Teacher prep will depend on your student’s learning preferences and how you decide to use the curriculum. If your student receives instruction from you rather than the DVD lessons, it’ll help to review the lesson in the instruction book ahead of time. But you should have to give instruction usually just once a week or so.

Student Time

Again, this will depend on how you decide to use the curriculum (worksheets) and how well the student understands the new concept. I’ve had my students do two worksheets a day (one lesson practice worksheet and one systematic review worksheets), one worksheet a day (progressing through the workbook), and even just a couple of worksheets a week. For early elementary, I find that twenty minutes is usually enough time. But by fourth grade (long division!), you’ll want to schedule about 45 minutes.

To whom would I recommend Math-U-See?

(Based on Learning Preferences and Three D’s I describe in earlier posts.)
  • Students that do well with Interactive learning methods since Math-U-See is workbook-based with hands-on elements. A student that does well with Visual and Spoken Word learning methods will appreciate the instructional DVD.
  • Students that prefer One-on-One learning if a parent will be providing the instruction. After introduction to the new concept each lesson, Independent learners will prefer to work on their own.

To whom would I NOT recommend Math-U-See?

  • Students that strongly prefer learning via the Written Word because instruction is not included on the worksheets and the instruction manual is written for the teacher/parent.
  • Students that do not enjoy Interactive/Physical learning methods since the integer blocks are an integral part of the curriculum.
  • Students that do not do well with One-on-One learning if they also are not Visual/Spoken Word learners since that would mean receiving instruction from a parent and not the DVD.

My Best Tips for Using Math-U-See

My best tip – do not move on from a lesson/concept until the student has mastered it. Future learning will build upon the current lesson, so moving on before a student is ready to will only lead to frustration, loss of confidence, and maybe even despair – for both parent and child! I’ve found it helpful to step away from the curriculum if my student is struggling with a concept and find another way to practice it using my child’s most preferred learning method.

The Last Thing You Need to Know about Math-U-See

While not the most exciting or fun-looking math curriculum out there, Math-U-See is solid, relatively easy to use, and does a good job of helping students to feel confident in their math skills (as long as the parent/teacher doesn’t rush the student through the curriculum!).
math u see
Handwriting Without Tears Review – Cursive

Handwriting Without Tears Review – Cursive

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase using the links.

Handwriting Without Tears is a handwriting curriculum that is part of the Learning Without Tears group of resources. It’s intended for use in a school setting, but it’s become popular in the homeschool community. I was drawn to the curriculum because it was created by occupational therapists and I had a student that was extremely resistant to adopting the correct pencil grip in pre-k. It worked so well for him that I decided to use Handwriting Without Tears to teach cursive to my oldest.

Handwriting Without Tears Review for Fourth Grade

Curriculum Elements

Cursive Success, the fourth-grade level workbook, reviews the cursive skills (using Handwriting Without Tear‘s vertical style rather than the more traditional slanted style) learned in the previous workbook (Cursive Handwriting), but focuses more on connecting letters while adding more language arts topics. Some of the additional language arts topic include writing activities focusing on topics like poems, synonyms/antonyms, letter writing, etc. But I would say that the focus of the workbook is writing words in cursive, and that this workbook is not sufficient to also serve as a grammar or writing curriculum for a fourth grader.

The Cursive Success Teacher’s Guide includes ideas for multi-sensory activities. Reluctant writers or students that struggle with workbook work would benefit from these ideas. But if your student just needs practice, the workbook should be sufficient. The parent/instructor can simply sit with their student and talk through the letter formations as described on the page, then monitor the child’s work.

The version of the book we used had about 88 pages of student work, most of which can be done in one sitting. The first page of student work is dedicated to cursive warm-ups. Rather than do this page in one sitting, I would recommend either doing one line a day – finishing the page before moving on to the next – or doing one line a day and working on the next page that has not been completed. There’s also a couple of pages toward the end of the workbook where the student completes paragraphs, but we found it to be rather clunky and probably should have skipped them. The teacher’s guide, which I did not use, may have given more instruction about those pages.

Necessary

Cursive Success – student workbook

Optional

Teacher Prep

If you plan to use the teacher’s guide, you’ll want to spend some time with it and plan out the activities you do in addition to the workbook. You will likely also have to make additional purchases.

But if you’re using just the workbook, most pages should be open and go. There are several “Spelling to Cursive” sections interspersed throughout the workbook that will require you to dictate and verbally spell words using letters that have been covered so far, so you may want to have words prepared in advance so that you don’t have to come up with them on-the-spot.

Student Time

Most of the pages should take less than 15 minutes to complete, but some students may want to complete pages towards the back of the workbook over two days if experiencing frustration.

To whom would I recommend Handwriting Without Tears?

(Based on Learning Preferences and Three D’s I describe in earlier posts.)

Recommend for…

  • Students that do well with the Written WordSpoken Word, and Visual learning methods should do well with just the workbook. But students that need more Interactive or Physical methods of learning may need multi-sensory activities as described in the teacher’s guide.
  • Like most early-learning curricula, Handwriting Without Tears requires One-on-One teaching.

I would NOT recommend for…

Children that have not yet learned how to write in cursive or learned in a different style than taught in Handwriting Without Tears since familiarity with this style of cursive is assumed.

My Best Tips for Using Handwriting Without Tears

  • Keep a close eye on your student’s letter formation and connections between letters since it’s important to correct your student before they create bad habits.
  • Keep the lessons short, no more than 15 minutes.

Common Questions/FAQ About Handwriting Without Tears

Do I need the teacher’s manual/guide?

Yes, if your student needs multi-sensory activities as part of his/her handwriting curriculum.

The Last Thing You Need to Know about Handwriting Without Tears

This is one of my favorite of all the curricula we’ve used because it shows parents that have never taught handwriting how to teach this subject in a logical, stepwise manner that truly helps her child. I’m grateful that I found it!

handwriting without tears

If using just the workbook, you can do handwriting three times a week and complete it in less than a school year. If using multi-sensory activities from the teacher’s guide, you may want to do handwriting more often.

What Should You Buy?

Necessary

Cursive Success – student workbook

Optional

Teacher Prep

If you plan to use the teacher’s guide, you’ll want to spend some time with it and plan out the activities you do in addition to the workbook. You will likely also have to make additional purchases.

But if you’re using just the workbook, most pages should be open and go. There are several “Spelling to Cursive” sections interspersed throughout the workbook that will require you to dictate and verbally spell words using letters that have been covered so far, so you may want to have words prepared in advance so that you don’t have to come up with them on-the-spot.

Student Time

Most of the pages should take less than 15 minutes to complete, but some students may want to complete pages towards the back of the workbook over two days if experiencing frustration.

To whom would I recommend Handwriting Without Tears?

(Based on Learning Preferences and Three D’s I describe in earlier posts.)

Recommend for…

  • Students that do well with the Written WordSpoken Word, and Visual learning methods should do well with just the workbook. But students that need more Interactive or Physical methods of learning may need multi-sensory activities as described in the teacher’s guide.
  • Like most early-learning curricula, Handwriting Without Tears requires One-on-One teaching.

I would NOT recommend for…

Children that have not yet learned how to write in cursive or learned in a different style than taught in Handwriting Without Tears since familiarity with this style of cursive is assumed.

My Best Tips for Using Handwriting Without Tears

  • Keep a close eye on your student’s letter formation and connections between letters since it’s important to correct your student before they create bad habits.
  • Keep the lessons short, no more than 15 minutes.

Common Questions/FAQ About Handwriting Without Tears

Do I need the teacher’s manual/guide?

Yes, if your student needs multi-sensory activities as part of his/her handwriting curriculum.

The Last Thing You Need to Know about Handwriting Without Tears

This is one of my favorite of all the curricula we’ve used because it shows parents that have never taught handwriting how to teach this subject in a logical, stepwise manner that truly helps her child. I’m grateful that I found it!

handwriting without tears

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If using just the workbook, you can do handwriting three times a week and complete it in less than a school year. If using multi-sensory activities from the teacher’s guide, you may want to do handwriting more often.

What Should You Buy?

Necessary

Cursive Success – student workbook

Optional

Teacher Prep

If you plan to use the teacher’s guide, you’ll want to spend some time with it and plan out the activities you do in addition to the workbook. You will likely also have to make additional purchases.

But if you’re using just the workbook, most pages should be open and go. There are several “Spelling to Cursive” sections interspersed throughout the workbook that will require you to dictate and verbally spell words using letters that have been covered so far, so you may want to have words prepared in advance so that you don’t have to come up with them on-the-spot.

Student Time

Most of the pages should take less than 15 minutes to complete, but some students may want to complete pages towards the back of the workbook over two days if experiencing frustration.

To whom would I recommend Handwriting Without Tears?

(Based on Learning Preferences and Three D’s I describe in earlier posts.)

Recommend for…

  • Students that do well with the Written WordSpoken Word, and Visual learning methods should do well with just the workbook. But students that need more Interactive or Physical methods of learning may need multi-sensory activities as described in the teacher’s guide.
  • Like most early-learning curricula, Handwriting Without Tears requires One-on-One teaching.

I would NOT recommend for…

Children that have not yet learned how to write in cursive or learned in a different style than taught in Handwriting Without Tears since familiarity with this style of cursive is assumed.

My Best Tips for Using Handwriting Without Tears

  • Keep a close eye on your student’s letter formation and connections between letters since it’s important to correct your student before they create bad habits.
  • Keep the lessons short, no more than 15 minutes.

Common Questions/FAQ About Handwriting Without Tears

Do I need the teacher’s manual/guide?

Yes, if your student needs multi-sensory activities as part of his/her handwriting curriculum.

The Last Thing You Need to Know about Handwriting Without Tears

This is one of my favorite of all the curricula we’ve used because it shows parents that have never taught handwriting how to teach this subject in a logical, stepwise manner that truly helps her child. I’m grateful that I found it!

handwriting without tears

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